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National character and European identity in Hungarian literature 1772-1848

Aczel, Richard Louis; (1990) National character and European identity in Hungarian literature 1772-1848. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), University of London, School of Slavonic and East European Studies (United Kingdom). Green open access

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Abstract

My thesis examines late 18th and early 19th century Hungarian literature in its European context, demonstrating its complex fusion of nationally specific and fundamentally European elements. In comparing the social background to, and central ideas of, the West European Enlightenment with the conditions and aspirations of the Hungarian literary renewal in the years 1772-95, Chapter One challenges the conventional characterisation of this period in Hungarian literature as a "belated" Age of Enlightenment. Chapter Two argues the essential continuity between West European and Hungarian culture at the end of the 18th century, in a period bom of the Enlightenment's inner crisis, and draws on Schiller's notion of the sentimental in characterising the new cultural moment in Europe. Chapter Three offers a detailed account of the 'sentimental dilemma' in late 18th century Hungarian literature, while Chapter Four traces the origins of the literary preoccupation with folk culture which was to play a leading role in the development of the national literature throughout the 19th century. I interpret the growing identification with the 'simplicity', 'naturalness' and national character of folk culture as an attempt to resolve the sentimental crisis of identity. Here I draw on Schiller's concept of the naive and on Herder's distinction between natural and art poetry. Chapter Five considers the development of the 'naive' identification with folk culture in the Age of Reform, while Chapter Six examines the conscious 'literary populism' of the 1840s which categorically rejects foreign influences and promotes folk poetry as the basis for an 'organic' and 'authentic' national poetry. Chapter Seven attempts to recover a series of profoundly European Romantic initiatives in early 19th century Hungarian literature which have been neglected by the popular-national tradition. My conclusion considers the survival of these tensions between European influence and national character in Hungarian literature after 1848.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: National character and European identity in Hungarian literature 1772-1848
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics; Hungarian literature
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124290
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